Recycling EWaste

By admin
March 07, 2012

The why and how of recycling e-waste
Photo by Abe Draper

We all are guilty of tossing aside the obsolete cell phone, tablet, laptop or DVD player for the latest electronic gadget. In fact, with the short “life expectancies” of some of the tools we use to manage our businesses, keep in touch and keep up with what is going on around the world, it is likely (but not inevitable) that our once shiny new toys could someday make their way to a garbage bin or landfill, unless we take the time to recycle these valuable, yet potentially hazardous outcasts.

Greenpeace estimates that 20 to 60 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste) are discarded annually around the globe. It is actually the fastest growing component of all municipal solid waste and currently makes up five percent of what goes into municipal landfills. Because of the sheer volume of electronic refuse, it has finally caught the attention of environmentalists and engineers alike…

Environmentalists are seeking ways to recycle e-waste, lowering the negative impact on the planet, and preventing the sizable amounts of lead, cadmium, brominated fire retardants and plastics from contaminating soil and leaching into the water supply. Engineers, see the value of reclaiming the valuable elements such as aluminum, gold and copper, as well as harvesting the hazardous heavy metals such as lead and mercury, radioactive substances and halogenated compounds so they can be reused.

4 Simple E-Waste Recycling Tips

  1. Don’t throw old electronics in the trash. Even if it’s legal to dispose of used electronics in the trash in your state, the toxics inside these products don’t belong in the landfill.
  2. If your product still operates, donate it to a school, church, or a reputable reuse organization such as the National Cristina Foundation or World Computer Exchange. Many local towns and cities hold annual or semi-annual drives in which people can voluntarily donate their old electronics.
  3. If your old electronics are not in working order, find a responsible recycler in your state by going to mygreenelectronics.org, the website of the Consumer Electronics Association. This site also provides a handy energy calculator that shows how much electricity your products use.
  4. If you still can’t find a convenient location to donate or recycle your electronics check the websites of popular retailers that have their own recycling programs including: Apple, Dell, Sony, HP, Gateway, Best Buy and Staples.

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